Tuesday,21 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1207, (24 - 30 July 2014)
Tuesday,21 August, 2018
Issue 1207, (24 - 30 July 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Soccer on the side - On the move

Marawan Zayed highlights the most notable deals and moves in the Players Transfer market

Al-Ahram Weekly

Every football expert, pundit, coach, agent and player knew that summer 2014 would be a big summer for the player transfer market. Following the conclusion of the World Cup a little over a week ago, some mega deals have already taken place.

The deals have occurred primarily within England’s Premier League and Spain’s La Liga, as some of the biggest stars of both leagues have traded both teams and countries; some exchanges even took place prior to the World Cup.

Spanish Barcelona star Cesc Fabregas, was the first big name on the move this summer when he sealed a return back to London by signing for Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in a deal that cost around 30 million sterling. The deal surprised many fans who recalled Fabregas’ strong reputation at Chelsea rivals, Arsenal, prior to moving to Spain. Reports indicate that Fabregas initially wanted to return to Arsenal to reunite with Arsene Wenger but that Wenger opposed the deal as Fabregas’ presence would reduce playing time for German, Mesut Özil, who plays the same position as Fabregas. Whether these reports are true or not, the sad reality for Arsenal fans is that their former star and captain will be lining up against them this season.

Another star who left the Spanish league for Chelsea is Spanish Atletico Madrid striker, Diego Costa. While Costa may not be pleased with his World Cup performances, he will certainly be delighted to secure such a move right after leading his team to the league title and Champions League final where they fell to La Liga heavyweights, Real Madrid. Costa was one of the best players in Spain last season, scoring 37 times in all competitions which made him the first choice striker for Spain in the World Cup. Although he and his Spanish teammates failed miserably in the Brazil, it is likely that Chelsea fans will not bother much as they recall him and the rest of Atletico Madrid knocking them out of the Champions League last season.

Atletico Madrid did not waste time replacing Costa, recently landing brilliant Croatian star, Mario Mandzukic. The Croatian goal machine knew his time at Bayern Munich was over when the club signed the league’s best striker Robert Lewandowski from Dortmund at the end of last season. However a player of Mandzukic’s caliber, did not need to be concerned, and this proved true when he signed for the La Liga champions and Champions League finalists. Mandzukic was not the only superstar to leave Bayern as Germany’s unbelievably talented Toni Kroos left the club to sign for arguably the world’s most decorated club and Champions League winners, Real Madrid. immediately following the end of the World Cup.

Kroos had just one year left in his contract when the German club received an offer in the neighbourhood of 25 million euros for the World Cup star, which the club accepted as per the player’s request.  Although Bayern Munich did its best to hang onto one of its best players, Kroos had already made up his mind. Fresh from World Cup glory and being chosen as one of the best six players in the competition, Kroos is hoping to have an impact on La Liga that will be among the likes of Messi, Neymar and new arrival Suarez.

Much like Fabregas and Costa, Chilean star Alexis Sanchez also made the decision to leave Spain for England. After playing a terrific World Cup marked by his admirable performance and exemplary leadership, many speculated that Barcelona would do whatever it could to hang onto the Chilean. This was not the case though, as the Catalan club was ready to sell the Chilean star despite both his stellar World Cup performance and coming off of his best season in Barcelona, where he scored 19 goals and supplied ten assists in the league. The extraordinary tally for the winger was not enough to persuade Barcelona to keep hold of him as the Spanish heavyweights included him in their offer to buy Luis Suarez from Liverpool. Interestingly enough, Sanchez ended up preferring Arsenal to the Reds, while also passing on opportunities in Italy with Juventus and Inter Milan.

The decision to acquire Luis Suarez quieted many Barcelona fans’ indignation following the club’s decision to shop Sanchez.

Suarez’s transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona is unequivocally the most blockbuster deal of the summer both financially and tactically. The superb Uruguayan cost the Spanish giants 75 million sterling. His acquisition comes during a suspension lasting though late October following his biting antics in a match against Italy during the World Cup.

While some would say the fee for Suarez is too high, Liverpool fans insist that their now former star is worth much much more than the 31 goals in just 33 appearances without a single penalty last season. The Uruguayan was also selected as player of the year by the Football Writer’s Association so perhaps they have a point.

Suarez is fearless, unpredictable, talented, and superbly skillful as he can score from any place on the pitch. His desire to move to Spain is long-standing, with both Real Madrid and Barcelona in pursuit of him since last season. Suarez leaves on a high as he guided Liverpool to the Champions League after years of waiting and bringing them within striking distance of winning the English Premier League before losing to Manchester City.

Although Liverpool fans are feeling down after losing their best player, and as skipper Steven Gerrard noted, one of the best to ever wear the Liverpool shirt, they still wish their departing star all the best at his new club.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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